Traveling Mercies



I must confess that this is my first Anne Lamott book. I had heard of her of course; her name floated in and out of my consciousness, tagged as “spiritual writing” and always promised to myself, but never achieved.

In fact, reading has been a bit of a luxury these days. Moving to New Mexico has been a wonderful if tiring experience and even though I seem locked into a routine again, reading has taken a bit of a back seat to decorating, exercise, cooking, and well, just luxuriating in my happy life.

A blogging friend sent me this one of Anne’s books. You see I can’t imagine calling her Ms. Lamott or anything formal. That’s not how she writes, and certainly not how she would want her readers to relate to her. As to that, I’m guessing, but I’m pretty sure.

With the first few pages, you start to identify with this woman’s story. Not the particulars of course, because few lives are like  any another in that way, but the broad themes of all lives are the same aren’t they?

We love, we hate, we win, we lose, we achieve, we fail, we hope and dream, we despair. It’s only the specifics that change. And the specifics really don’t matter at all.

Ann has the supreme gift of honesty and the willingness and ability to talk about how she feels during all this messiness of living. She has long ago discarded the lies that we tell ourselves, let alone the one’s we tell each other. She’s brutally honest, sometimes painfully so, but in a humor that makes you smile, and acknowledge that her’s is not some black smear across her forehead, but is much like our own guarded secrets of ugly thoughts, speech and actions.

You see, Anne is not special, except that she is magnificently special by refusing to be special. She reminds us that we are just the same,  special, if only we could knock down the walls that separate us from us and from the world. Her stories, vignettes of everyday experiences, guide us through the traumas, big and small, of our own pasts and presents,  and lead us to health.

She helps us to stop beating ourselves up over our failings and shortcomings and achieves along with us, a comfortable home here in our own skin. We are as whole as we what to be, simply by owning ourselves fully, and as my husband likes to say, showing us that grace is that thing that allows us to fail today knowing that we have the hope of being better tomorrow.

It is each getting up and trudging onward in hope that a gracious God will be there to ease the bruises and wipe up the blood that makes it possible to continue this journey of life. Anne does it with grace, with realizing that the smallest of things evidence a loving God, and God is moreover big enough to take our best shot at Her.

God comes to live among us, as I am sure God always wanted. Anne makes God a partner in this crazy experience of human living, and from that partnership grows in wisdom, in love, and in compassion.

She has much to offer you, and you will seldom realize she is working such magic within you as you page through her life. You will become a confirmed fan, eager for more.

I am.



2 comments on “Traveling Mercies

  1. I am SO delighted you liked this book. She has a new one coming out this fall, “Help. Thanks. Wow.” I’ve handed out more copies of “Bird by Bird” than I can count to guys at the prison, recommending it for the living she describes within. It’s as much about spirituality as it is about writing. You share many writing characteristics with her, but your writing is always your own, as it should be!

    • Oh Lord I WISH I could write like her. I wish I had her honesty. I am now a fan and will be getting the rest of her books I am sure. We have an extraordinary used book store here in Las Cruces which is like a library. I am sure I can find her books there at a discount! lol Thank you again Shannon for your generosity of spirit.

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